New Disavow Links Tools Proves Negative SEO Exists, Is a Serious Issue


disavow links

After months of denying/downplaying the impact of Negative SEO, Google today has launched a new and widely anticipated disavow links tool. The tool was announced by Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam, at today’s keynote at the Pubcon conference, implicitly proving the existence of Negative SEO. The new Google disavow links tool is live and can be used now.

New Disavow Tool: What Does It All Mean?

My take on the new disavow tool:

  • Proves that Negative SEO is a Real Issue: Obviously (duh!). Otherwise why would Google roll out such a tool. Not all webmasters are sophisticated enough to use the disavow tool to disavow links. Unscrupulous SEOs could target unsuspecting, competing websites with devastating effect.
  • Creates Moral Hazard: The disavow links tool is a get-out-of-jail-free card for any spammy SEO tactics that have fallen out of favor in Google’s eyes. The risk of engaging in black-hat or grey-hat tactics are significantly reduced because if a grey/black-hat link scheme ends up going badly, the damage can now be so easliy undone. We wonder what counter-measures are being taken to mitigate abuse, if any.
  • Link Clean-Up Still Nearly Impossible: For example, the link profile for my website contains millions of backlinks from thousands of different domains. Trying to find the spammy URL’s/domains in the pile is akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. And that's probably their goal -- Google will give us the ability to disavow a link, but not the ability to figure out which ones are the spammy ones that are hurting our link profile (otherwise it would be too easy!).

Who Should Use The Disavow Links Tool and When?

Matt Cutts warned that the new Disavow Links tool should be used with extreme caution to avoid potential damage. He also said that publishers should first try to remove links they are concerned about by working with the site owner hosting the links or with companies they may have purchased links through.

While you might be tempted to delete the spammy links in your link profile, it's very hard to know exactly which links are the spammy ones that are hurting your account (unless, of course, know because you placed them there yourself in the first place). Since I have no reason to believe that my website is being penalized, I'm not going to use this Disavow Links tool for now! Plus, Matt Cutts said 10+ times in the video not to use the tool, which makes me wonder why this tool even exists.

How Does the Disavow Links Tool Work?

A website owner can disavow either individual URL’s or entire domains, specified in a text file which is uploaded to Google Webmaster Tools.

What Happens After I Disavow My Links?

According to Matt Cutts, the process of Google discounting the links to your site won’t be immediate, and could take weeks to take effect.

Using the disavow tool is the same as using the “nofollow” attribute, which allows sites to link to other sites without passing ranking credit to those sites.

Google also reserves the right not to use the submissions if it feels there’s a reason not to trust them. We wonder what else they're doing with this data. For example, compiling a list of SEO's with guilty consciences?

Were Can I Get More Information on the Google Disavow Tool?

For more information on the new disavow links tool, please see:


What's Your Take on the New Disavow Links Tool?

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Harsh Agrawal
Oct 16, 2012

With Penguin, Google accidently gave a rebirth to Negative SEO and this tool is need of time.. Though this tools need more refinement and more feature..More over, at this time using it is tough and require lots of manual work.. Hopefully Google will integrate it directly into GWT...

Oct 17, 2012

I think the fact that it requires a lot of manual effort means that it's less susceptible to abuse and those that are contemplating using it should think long and hard before disavowing all their links.By the same merit, it would be great to have a feature within GWT to see all your links... but webmasters have been waiting for that one since the dawn of time ;)

Oct 18, 2012

You can see your links in Bing webmaster.

Oct 17, 2012

Thank you very much for that wonderful presentation. Hopefully i would not need to use my get out of jail card soon. Although i would hold on to it.

Oct 18, 2012

I would also like to use it but how is the biggest question one of site hit by google have over million backlinks and google want me to check all of them one by one impossible for me I would rather like to build a new site.

Georg Ristow
Oct 17, 2012

Very useful post really disavow tools will going to be the best tool for protecting our site from negative SEO thanks for introducing this one Mr. Matt cutts . You have done a great a job!!!

Oct 17, 2012

it seems to be a great tool thankssssssssssss

Matthew Woodward
Oct 17, 2012

Fantastic.Just what the SEO world needed, a super snitch tool.Credit where it is due, Google have created a tool that on the surface makes them look very helpful but all this actually does is create an virtual army that identifys 'low quality' links on their behalf.It would be naivie to think Google won't be applying penaltys to other sites based on what other people have submitted to disavow.

Elisa Gabbert
Oct 17, 2012

Good point Matthew -- if you file a bunch of "disavow link" requests against a certain domain, isn't that just another form of negative SEO?

Oct 17, 2012

Elisa is thinking exactly what I was as I read this article.This tool doesn't really seem to solve anything, as whoever was bad enough to give you bad links in the first place, can now just go in and disavow any good links you have. :/

lance Bachmann
Oct 17, 2012

I agree with a lot said here but if you listen to Matt he said do not use it unless you have to...Because if you put links in there that arent hurting you and you think they are you could lose your rankings...It is important to make sure you look at the links thoroughly try and go though the web master and than use this as a last resort if you receive a email from the spam team...Make sense? 

Nick Stamoulis
Oct 19, 2012

Cutts definitely emphasized that only very experienced webmasters should be using the tool.  I think it's because novices could end up disavowing links that actually do have value, negatively impacting their rank.  Unless you have been notified in Google Webmaster tools about having unnatural links, it's probably best to stay away. 

Convurgency Inc
Oct 20, 2012

This tool will help us in disallowing low quality links which are spammy in nature or can make reverse effect on our ranking but you need to use this tool with special care and attention. It will be more difficult to determine those spammy links in a website if your website has numerous backlinks.

Oct 21, 2012

 I am not sure if I like this tool or not. Just as you said it will allow people that practice black hat seo the ability to fix their site. You can now use this and say that it was someone else that did the damage to your site. It is still new, so only time will tell how good of a tool this truly is.

webber max
Oct 26, 2012

The tips are really helpful. I am really comfortable with the idea of refreshing the sites for success. The videos are so informative. A great guide and help for the ones who are new to google webmaster. Thanks a lot for this share. 

Nov 01, 2012

Looks like they ripped this tool straight from Bing...Google falling off their game?Seriously though, this is a great thing. I've been the victim of negative SEO in the past especially with one site in particular and it's a huge headache.It will be interesting to see how my rankings are effected in Google once I disavow those links. I saw a nice bump in Bing when using their tool.

Dev Basu
Nov 20, 2012

It's been a little over a month since the disavow tool was released and success stories are few and far between. The lag time between the implementation of the tool and it's pay-off is worrying for webmasters. Google did say it'd take multiple weeks, but for an algorithmically driven tool, it sure does take more time than expected.

Tomas Rawicky
Nov 25, 2012

How to disallow links from all .tk domains? domain:tk ?

Dec 02, 2012

Its not going to work so don’t go running to expecting the tool will work its the last thing you want touch.

Myrna Bakerwood
Dec 29, 2012

 I am not sure if I like this tool or not. Just as you said it will allow people that practice black hat seo the ability to fix their site. You can now use this and say that it was someone else that did the damage to your site. It is still new, so only time will tell how good of a tool this truly is.

Gregg Thorpe
Mar 11, 2013

I agree with those comments advising to only use the Disavow tool if you have been hit by a penalty, and or your traffic and rankings have severely plummeted.

  • Conduct a link audit and categorize backlinks
  • Eradicate aggressive anchor text by hand
  • Put the spam backlinks in a text file
  • Disavow spam links
  • File reconsideration
  • Wait for the response
  • Search rankings restored
Build authority links through genuine outreach and marketing by contacting site owners and webmasters. When you think of asking for a link as asking someone to do business with you; you will be in the proper mindset, and the results from your link building efforts will increase dramatically.

Apr 21, 2013

 I am really not a fan of the disavow tool. I think that it is unfair to webmasters to force them to go through their link profile and determine what a healthy link is. This does absolutely nothing to stop the growing problem of negative SEO because it is quite frankly impossible to disavow hundreds of thousands of links that are thrown at your website daily. Allowing negative link juice was one of the worst decisions that Google has made and really makes it a completely volatile source of traffic.

Feb 10, 2014

 Yeah, negative SEO it's a fact and, from my point of view, a big weekness of the Google algo. They say  it doesn't exists but I've see too many cases of aggresive spam linking with the porpose of making harm. Not a big fan of the disavow link - if we're not careful, we can add good links and lose their value forever (once added to disavow they're gone for good). too many cases

Sep 09, 2014

The tips are really helpful. The videos are so informative. A great guide and help for the ones who are new to google webmaster. Thanks a lot for this share. 

Mar 11, 2015


I really like your tips and sure follow them to make my blog work for SEO. Thanks a lot & Keep up the good work;)

Oct 13, 2015

Negative SEO is the most frustrating thing and on the top you can do only a little about it. Though combating it with disavow tool but still it takes a long time. Anyways, nice share, at least we have some "arsenal" to fight with it.

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